India Men’s Hockey team trounce France in their opening Pro League match

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thedragflick.com/Credits : Hockey India

Dragflick Newsdesk : India men’s team gave masterclasses in their particular style of hockey in the first of a series of FIH Hockey Pro League matches taking place in Potchefstroom, South Africa. India tormented France with their free running and swift changes in the direction of attack.

The national men’s team of India men hit the ground running in their first match of Season Three in the FIH Hockey Pro League. A cagey first quarter was followed by 45 minutes of creative, controlled and entertaining hockey that left France with few opportunities to open their own scoring account in their first FIH Pro League outing.

Head Coach Frederic Soyez explained ahead of the match that his team had only had limited time to prepare for their entry into the competition but his players were very aware that this is an invaluable learning opportunity ahead of a World Cup and a home Olympic Games (Paris 2024)

Certainly, the India side put on a masterclass in attacking hockey during this encounter. The damage was done in the second quarter. Harmanpreet Singh opened the scoring in the 21st minute with a beautifully taken penalty corner that evaded the outstretched foot of Arthur Thieffry in the France goal.

Thieffry had made some important saves prior to this moment and would go on to keep the ball out of the net on several more occasions.

Minutes later Varun Kumar also rattled the back of the goal with a fierce penalty corner strike. The scorer of the third goal, Shamsher Singh, was the beneficiary of a fabulous counter attack. The French team had pushed high and won a penalty corner, which the India defence cleared swiftly. Three passes later Kumar was able to pick his spot in the goal and give his team an unassailable lead.

Mandeep Singh scored the fourth in the 32nd minute and then Akashdeep Singh – who celebrated 200 caps for his country in this match – sealed the emphatic win with a well-taken goal following another speedy and clinical build-up by his team. Akashdeep’s performance earned him the Player of the Match award.

Speaking after the game, India captain Manpreet Singh said:

‘We are really happy because France are a good team and we knew we couldn’t give them any opportunities. In the first quarter we were a bit sloppy but after that we played a good game and scored goals. With that, we grew in confidence.’

The match was also noteworthy as it was the first FIH international men’s match that was umpired by two female umpires. Wanri Venter – who was also part of the first FIH Pro League match to have mixed gender umpires – took to the field with Annelize Rostron to take charge of the game.

 

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